Los Angeles, California – Mid October last year, a young Afghan interpreter, his wife, and two children left a refugee camp in Ft. Bliss, Texas and entered their new home. It was a culmination of a months long effort to evacuate the family plus four unaccompanied minor children in the last days before the country collapsed and fell to the Taliban. In those last days of utter chaos during the final hours of the U.S. withdrawal, Barry Oberholzer worked tirelessly to affect the evacuation of the two adults and six children through a volunteer network of former combat veterans and intelligence operators. It was a success story that piqued Barry’s interest to further follow Afghanistan.
The following month, Barry and his brother Marcel Oberholzer launched the U Foundation to respond on a much broader humanitarian scale after reading an article about Afghans in need of wood burning stoves to survive the impending winter months under the Taliban. Compelled to personally assist, they bought a few stoves, then more, and then branched into funding humanitarian aid drops feeding and clothing thousands since partnering with the Afghan Supply Corps. Currently 22.8 million people face starvation and freezing temperatures in Afghanistan where it is estimated 97% of the population lives below the poverty line since the chaotic US withdrawal last August.
In December, the U Foundation expanded to partner with the Afghan Medical Corps and initiated the “Safe Delivery Program.” Prior to the collapse last summer and takeover by the Taliban, Afghanistan had the ignominious distinction as having one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. When the Taliban took control on August 15, 2021, most pregnant Afghan women ceased prenatal care. With many families destitute and in hiding from persecution for loyalty to NATO and US forces, many babies and mothers died while delivering babies at home. Statistics, while no longer kept, can be described as grim at best. Partnering with a respected maternity hospital in Afghanistan, the U Foundation funds prenatal exams, safe deliveries, and postpartum care without charge to the patient. Currently the U Foundation and the Afghan Medical Corps facilitate approximately 30 “safe deliveries” a week.
In January, the U Foundation, aware of the huge shortage of pilots in the United States, and with their origins in the aviation industry, learned many highly experienced Afghan Air Force pilots, who had trained for years in the United States and spoke fluent English, were now refugees on US soil and being placed into welfare programs.
In a matter of weeks, the U Foundation pioneered, created, and launched the Cadet Corps to assist Afghan pilots transition from military to civilian careers in commercial aviation and is proud to announce the first ground school of ten pilots commences this week with a second class of ten on deck starting in five weeks. The program is also expanding to aircraf.t maintainers.
“When I read about the people of Afghanistan and the very simples needs such as food, heat, and medical care, it made me reflect on my own life, the joys and the sorrows, the privileges and the sacrifices, the successes and the failures, and I felt compelled to act. I believe in the power of one person. I know what happens when one person can take the summation of all previous life experiences, use it to make a difference in the present, and provide a future for others. Literally overnight, the U Foundation was born, and our stories are waiting to be told and waiting to be written. We, meaning U, are just getting started.” (Barry Oberholzer)
In addition to being longstanding aviation enthusiasts and aviators, both men are known for their accomplishments in the air and on the ground. Barry Oberholzer is the renowned author of The Black Market Concierge, a one-of-a-kind memoir and soon to be filmed as a streaming series with a well-known studio, which chronicles his infiltration and exposure at the highest of international levels of governments as a confidential informant for various government agencies